The Link Between IBS & Skin Issues

by Head Health Nutter on September 5, 2015

Nearly everyone I know who feels close enough to me to complain about feeling yucky, has some sort of digestive issue. Our gastrointestinal tract starts at our mouth and ends, well, you know… For all of you who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or if you know someone who does), this guest article by Kelly Everson is for you!

At times the answers to certain skin problems are found in strange places, such as the gut. Hardly can you think that the blemishes on your skin are as a result of issues with your digestive system. Studies dating back a few decades found a strong connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and skin problems. In reference to researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people who experience allergic symptoms of the skin are at an increased risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome.

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Symptoms of IBS can vary widely between patients and may resemble those of other illnesses. Common symptoms include:acne-face

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal pain

Severe symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood-stained stool
  • Nightly severe abdominal pain
  • Weight loss

Skin Problems Caused By IBS

According to Kerri Lee Ross, a holistic wellness counselor and founder of Living Beauty, improper digestion resulting from IBS can cause a number of skin problems, including red spots, rosacea, rashes, eczema, wrinkles, acne and dull complexion. These problems arise when undigested food stays in your gut backed up with toxins from rotting foods that hinders absorption of nutrients and waste elimination. These intestinal problems start to appear on your skin and may manifest in form of rashes, blotchy areas or acne.

Foods Contributing to IBS

According to Ross, irritable bowel syndrome that affects the skin can be caused by processed and refined, artificial foods which compromise digestion. All processed and refined foods like diet soda, chocolate bars, white sugar, red meat, wheat, alcohol and caffeine can cause IBS. The good news is that you can diminish skin problems resulting from IBS by eliminating such processed and refined foods in your diet within a few weeks. You can then gradually reintroduce these foods slowly, one at a time every few days, checking closely if there are reactions on your skin.

Psychological Factors Impact on Digestion and Skin

Psychological factors that mostly affect your digestion include stress and anxiety. When you are in stressful situations, Ross says that your body switches to “fight or flight” mode which means most bodily functions stop, including digestion, so that you can get enough energy to cope with your stressors. This means that stress and anxiety from looming deadlines, home tasks, relationship conflicts and family obligations can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. Even if you are eating a healthy diet, your body is not able to absorb vital nutrients and minerals, and you will start noticing problems on your skin, hair or nails.

Altered Intestinal Flora

While most people make conscious decisions on what to eat or not, certain food combinations can require different digestive enzymes to digest. Interactions between enzymatic reactions can lead to IBS symptoms like gas, abdominal pain and bloating. For essential nutrients and minerals to get absorbed into your body, your intestinal flora should be conducive with a healthy bacterial balance. However, depletion of intestinal flora may occur due to use of alcohol, antibiotics, stress and poor diet. When you lose these essential nutrients, you will end up having poor quality skin, hair and nail, according to Ross.

Addressing Skin Issues From IBS

In reference to Ross, one of the most efficient ways in dealing with skin problems caused by irritable bowel syndrome is to clean up your diet by cutting out processed and refined foods. In addition, you should avoid foods that cause allergic reactions in your body or skin. Speaking on a personal situation, Ross started realizing significant improvement on her red spots on the face after she introduced raw foods in her diet.

Nutritional Supplements

According to Ross, there are three very crucial beauty supplements in dealing with skin issues caused by irritable bowel syndrome. These include:

  • Probiotics: These help in rebuilding a healthy intestinal flora to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Fish oils have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent inflammation and cell damage.
  • Multivitamin: They provide for nutritional deficiencies caused by IBS in a healthy diet.

Note: Ross recommends that the quality of your supplements is very important, and thus you should ensure that they are obtained from whole food sources with no artificial ingredients.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome that is wreaking havoc on your skin, you can also try digestive enzymes along with your meals to help breakdown food while your gut heals. Other essential nutrients you should consider include GLA from evening primrose oil, zinc, glutamine, and vitamin A, just to mention a few.


Irritable bowel syndrome comprises of digestive problems that prevent proper absorption of minerals and nutrients into the body. This hindrance triggers mineral and nutritional deficiencies in the body that manifest through a number of skin issues, including acne, rosacea, red spots, wrinkles and other blemishes. While IBS is treatable through prescribed medication, it is also preventable through dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes. Since IBS symptoms may vary from one person to another, you can take a self-test or go for medical screening to see if it’s the actual cause of your skin problems.

About the Author

Kelly Everson is MA in English Literature and an American Author. Her work comprises of articles appearing or forthcoming in over a dozen health care websites covering beauty skin care, weight loss, diet and overall men’s & women’s health. When she’s not educating strangers with her writing, she’s most likely researching about new discoveries in health, fitness and beauty industry. You can see more of her work at Consumer Health Digest. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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